Welcoming Is Key
‘And Rachel has taken the teraphim (idols), put them into the camel’s packsaddle and sat on them. Laban rummaged through the whole tent but found nothing’. (Genesis 31, 34)
Rachel decides to steal the teraphim, a skull filled with spelling powers which are believed to have abilities to speak and reveal things to those whom worship them according to the Zohar. ( Btw if you’ve tried this at home and found the teraphim not responsive try reading the manual again). Joke!
This explains why Rachel hides her father’s teraphim when attempting to fleet from his home as she wouldn’t want Laban knowing where to find her. But why sit on them and not conceal them under the bed or up over the roof?
Rachel disregards the teraphim by sitting on them and annuls their powers in this disgraceful fashion.
Even without learning exactly how the teraphim mechanics operate and deciding what biblical commentator to follow in defining what they were, we can imagine they resemble the lower ends of energy and pleasure this world has to offer. Rachel decides to belittle the teraphim and diregard them and by which dim their ability of effect on her world. It is only when you give something or someone recognition will they/it have an impact on you. The Talmud shows how the urge to repetitive behavior works on humans. At first contact, an immoral and unethical act seems to be so wrong and empty that one is shocked at him/herself for doing it. The second time around the reaction is still vague, however the third experience welcomes a familiarity that distorts one’s initial set of values. What changed the thinking scale was the welcoming of the wrong behavior, but once engaged in a set of motions, even unwanted ones- it is far more impelling to retract. A chronic alcoholic or narcotic is almost too vulnerable to blame for their substance dependency to the point where many defending lawyers argue their clients’ plea of illness when charged with theft and violence. It is only the starting point that one can take a stance and decide what side of the fence s/he will remain on, but the road from there in is very clear and destined.
Many believe in good karma, good mojo and euphoria. That is all very nice but only validated when we make it significant. A good vibe is usually the outcome of your outlook and input, surely with many exceptions. Rachel is the door opener to consciousness scales and presumptuous outcomes one can expect. She tells the story of life and encourages us to give way to the good. If you allow the forces of good to prevail by believing in them, they absolutely will. A rabbi once responded to a student seeking advice in believing in G-d for sustenance. ‘ I feel I need to do more than I am in order to make a decent living’ said the pupil. The rabbi responded ‘ if that’s how you feel then that’s exactly what you should do’. If you feel you will not make it unless you work 3 jobs and force yourself to the max, that is the maximum of blessing you allow your life to contain. If however you feel you can take off a holiday for Rosh Hashana, pay more for Jewish education and invest in a Chanuka candelabra and other mitzvot you will have everything taken care of. Surely once cannot become blind if reality, but one must remember that we make our realities come true. I personally find successful people believing in the good and seeing success evolve before it even happens. They are the ones that easily find the positive in others and allow for a broader sphere of influence, and the cycle keep going. I heard from that Rabbi Fanger of Hidabroot say the first 30 seconds you see someone make the impact, and advises that we should always praise anyone we encounter for the first 30 seconds before getting to othe discussions. Seems he has this understanding that we must welcome the praise and it will welcome more good to follow. Can you imagine how incredibly more ambient Jewish life can be if we all believed and welcomed its invaluable significance?
R. David Benchlouch